Thursday, March 29, 2012

Translation Truth Troubles Torah-man

Two weeks ago, Rabbi Meyer Lubin wrote a letter to the FJJ, on which I blogged about here:

This week, a Kollel Yungerman in Flatbush responded:

Truth in Translation

I am writing in response to Rabbi Meyer
Lubin’s letter. First and foremost, if one truly
wants to remove a stumbling block from
the path of his people, he should state what
he feels to be the correct translation. Many
people want to know the actual translation,
yet they are uncomfortable calling someone
they don’t know. Therefore, I ask that you
submit your translation of “arneves” to the
Without getting into the rights and
wrongs of using English translation, take
Artscroll, for example. Besides for the fact
that Artscroll has very choshuve translators,
their editors, one of them being Harav Nosson
Sherman, Shlita, are all venerated and
well respected talmidei chachamim. For you
to go out on a limb and argue against their
translation, is wrong on your behalf. If you
feel that you are on the level to argue on
these esteemed Rabbonim, you should at
least put in your “correct” translation with
a source.
Until you are benevolent enough to
state your translation, arneves will remain
translated as a hare, as stated in the Artscroll
chumash. As a side point, Artscroll was endorsed
by many prominent Roshei Yeshiva
and Rabbonim (for the right purpose, of
Being Moche for the Kavod of our Rabbonim,
A Kollel Yungerman in Flatbush

Firstly, AKYiF states that Rabbi Lubin should state what the arneves is, rather than requiring people to call him. Now I am not sure why Rabbi Lubin didn't reveal this great secret in the paper, but I am aware that he published an article in Intercom magazine in 1973, and more recently he republished this essay among others in a booklet with R' Herschel Schacter's Haskomo. Therein, he proclaims the arneves to be the bactrian camel and the shafan to be the llama and it's cousins (alpaca, vicuna and guanaco).

His proofs are pretty ingenious and they work well with the past, present and future tenses of the pesukim in vayikra 11 3-7...hifris, hifrisa, yafris. I would imagine that due to the complexity of the issue, he refrained from naming the animals in his brief letter to the editor, and would rather explain this to his callers. Of course this is only conjecture.

Secondly, I don't know why AKYiF assumes that no one may argue on Rav Nosson Scherman and Artscroll. As pointed out in my other post, Rav Shamshon Rafael Hirsch questioned the translation of shafan and arneves meaning rabbit/hare/coney since the Torah says that the shafan/arneves chew their cud, yet the rabbit/hare/coney don't.

Finally, just because rabbonim have endorsed Artscroll, that doesn't mean that they agree with every single thought or translation contained therein.

Being Moche for the Kavod of Rabbi Meyer Lubin (no I am not him!).


  1. I suppose we all should stop creating new Chidushim, as new interpretations invariably conflict with old ones.

  2. This guy is so off, it's a joke. I feel like he would have written that letter when he read the Raavad's hasagos.

  3. Well, yes and no. I am sure that he is aware that Rabbonim have differences of opinion. Yet 99% of the Chumashim in the vernacular translate shafan/arneves as rabbit/hare/coney/hyrax. So the onus is on Rabbi Lubin to show some documentation.

    Incidentally, he does quote from a sefer written by Rabbi Yosef Zeliger written c. 1930 that supports his llama family theory. See his sefer כתבי הרב ד"ר יוסף זליגר found on hebrewbooks here.


    ממה שנזכרים גמל, ארנבת ושפן במאמר אחד במשנה תורה
    נראה, שגם ארנבת ושפן מיני גמלים

  4. I don't think he has to show that someone else thought of it first in order for his objection to be plausible* or, more importantly, worthy of consideration.

    All that said, if he has done much more work and research on it, then maybe he should have done more than present a tiny sliver of his work in a popular forum. I know a lot of people are drooling idiots ;-) but even among the masses there are also a considerable number of people who can follow a lengthy discussion. If so, why withhold it? Given this context, it does seem odd that he only lodged an objection without offering anything else - unless he was planning a series of letters for some reason.

    * I am not commenting on whether or not I find his objection plausible.

  5. I can't really comment on why Rabbi Lubin withheld what he deems to be the correct translation. I can only guess. I mentioned one possibility. Another may be that he is aged and finds typing difficult. There are many other possibilities also.

    I agree that one doesn't need precedent to offer a novel interpretation; otherwise, as anon mentioned, there would be no chidushim.

    Interestingly enough, Rabbi Lubin mentions that he was shown Rabbi Dr. Leviger's sefer after he thought of his chidush. And in turn, Rabbi Leviger mentions that אח׳כ בא לידי ספר ״ברזלי״ לחכם ד׳ אהרן מרקוס וראיתי, שגם דעתו
    בדבר ארנבת ושפן כדעתי. If you could track down that sefer that would be of interest. I could not find it on HB.

    Thank you.

  6. It's here:

    at least the German original. If you wait a bit I can send you the Hebrew translation.

  7. Thanks, but my German is not up to speed. I'll wait for the Hebrew. Appreciate.


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